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CEO of ISP Luminet Says UK Should Focus on Universal Gigabit Broadband

Monday, November 6th, 2017 (12:01 am) - Score 3,624
sasha williamson luminet ceo

6. Elsewhere Virgin Media has committed to ensure that over 2 million UK premises are reached by their network using ultrafast Fibre-to-the-Premise (FTTP) technology and Openreach (BT) have similarly pledged to cover 2 million premises by 2020 (they’re also consulting on the possibility of doing 10 million premises by around 2025). 


We’re seeing a lot of similar deployments by smaller operators, such as Gigaclear, Hyperoptic, IFNL, Cityfibre and of course Luminet has some of its own fibre optic infrastructure. Do you think that rolling out FTTP/H/B is the best way forward for the UK broadband market and why?

ANSWER:

FTTP still requires digging up the last mile, as well as combating the sticky issue of navigating wayleaves. I agree that the focus should be on gigabit capable broadband technologies, which we provide – as does FTTP – but we have a long way to go as London is way behind other metropolis’s in terms of its connectivity.

Just this week Matt Hancock agreed that connectivity issues need to be addressed to allow London SMEs to flourish: “Digital connectivity is front and centre for London’s economic growth and a key priority for the government. Small businesses are key drivers of the economy, job creation and innovation. London can’t do without them and they must get the full support that they deserve.”

7. The Government has recently committed several hundred million pounds of additional public funding to help stimulate alternative network providers to expand their “full fibre” (FTTP/H) broadband networks. Do you think this is good enough or should the Government be doing a lot more and, if so, what would you do or change?

ANSWER:

Supporting and enabling full fibre will require billions – the existing fund is just a drop in the ocean, but I suppose it’s a small step in the right direction. What altnets really need is the right environment and better last mile access technologies to compete.

8. Some industry analysts and mobile operators have suggested that future 5G Mobile technology could end up replacing fixed lines as our primary source of broadband connectivity to the internet.

How feasible do you think such claims are, particularly given the traffic management restrictions, limited spectrum, data caps and rural reception problems that plague today’s 4G mobile services?

ANSWER:

In an ideal world 5G for consumers could be a primary source of connectivity, but I don’t think it will be the case for business. This will always need to be a mix of fixed and wireless technologies.

In practice it will be hard to implement because the user cases, economic dynamics and payback has not been worked out. Before you even look at capacity hotspots/ notspots you have to go back to basics and get agreement on industry standardisation, regulation, network splicing, times and sites.

For example, the City of London says it will need 50,000 sites for 5G – this will need alignment across property, legal and technology sectors. The use cases and economics for operators is far from being proven and they need to improve and upgrade 4G before this path to 5G can evolve and become deliverable with economic certainty.

9. Perhaps one of this year’s biggest events was the Brexit vote to leave the European Union. What are your thoughts on how leaving the EU in a couple of years’ time might impact Luminet, if at all?

ANSWER:

The ongoing certainty on what Brexit actually means is very unhelpful for industry – it softens decision-making and deters businesses from coming to London. The drop in the pound also affects purchasing equipment.

10. If you had the power to change existing laws and Ofcom regulation, what key changes would you make in order to help boost your own business and /or expand the coverage of future broadband services in general?

ANSWER:

Rip up the rulebook and take a completely fresh view, with an onus on reducing bureaucracy and supporting smaller telcos. The telecoms market was deregulated 15 years, but 90% of UK telecoms market is still owned by monopoly incumbent. How can this be a competitive environment?

11. Finally, the Government has proposed a new 10Mbps Universal Service Obligation, which is likely to focus most of its efforts upon the final 2-3% of UK premises that won’t be covered by a superfast broadband network via the Broadband Delivery UK programme (here).

At the time of writing it’s not known exactly what sort of technology and performance criteria (e.g. latency, upload speeds, affordability, usage allowances etc.), beyond a minimum download speed, will be set for the USO. If you could design the USO, what criteria would you set to ensure that a good quality and affordable connection is constantly maintained to all those covered by it?

ANSWER:

A 10Mbps USO is laughable in this digital age. Gigabit needs to be the focus – and the strategy must be aligned to a nationwide rollout. We need to look beyond a lobbying giant that wants to sweat its copper assets. De-regulation is needed, as we have seen in the past, a ‘voluntary’ commitment works for the shareholders, but not the national interest for a competitive market. However access to capital is also a barrier to stimulate altnet competition.

ISPreview.co.uk would just like to thanks to Sasha for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer some of our questions.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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7 Responses
  1. Avatar TomTom

    He is right afterall.

  2. Avatar Adam Jarvis

    “For example, the City of London says it will need 50,000 sites for 5G”

    And each of those needs to piggyback BTWholesale(or other contract) via ‘cheap’ openreach local loop fibre backhaul (backhaul infrastructure that just doesn’t exist yet) if it’s ever to become a reality en-masse, but try telling that to Sharon White, Ofcom.

    Talk of 5G by Ofcom is utter tosh, to put it politely. We all need to stop spouting hot air, and start doing the real work of getting more fibre in the ground.

    The talk of a 10Mbps USO is just designed to reinforce Ofcom’s role, create a customer complaint firefighting merry-go-round through useless Ombudsman Services (OS gets more per complaint in fees than the complaining customer), that achieve absolutely nothing. Those customers will still have crappy obfuscated, bamboozled “up to” sweated copper broadband.

    It’s a Pointless complaints (see Ofgem, if you need evidence) system designed to firefight individual complaints, not deal with problems affecting large numbers of customers at once, like a poorly implemented USO.

    BT will push up the potential call-out charge, to put technically clueless customers off complaining. 0.5mm copper will be patched (and patched again) upgraded to 0.63/0.9mm copper to ‘just’ meet threshold targets.

    It’s tinkering, pointless regulatory waffle, that achieves nothing.

    *The article needs to clarify ‘City of London’ i.e. Square Mile/financial district or the city of London, inner/outer greater London.
    Seems very high for SQ Mile, even with 500,000 City of London Workers. One mast per 10 workers.

    • Avatar 3G Infinity (now 4G going on 5G)

      You’re right number is too high, one small-cell per 100 users is a better number. That would suggest 470,000 [say 500K] small cells fro the whole of the UK.

  3. Avatar TheManStan

    I’m struggling a bit with this gentlemen’s claim about market ownership in his answer to question 10…

    Is he trying to say that BT has 90% of the geographical market in their pocket (which I could believe) or does he literally mean BT have 90% market share of the whole telecoms market, which frankly beggars belief…

    • Avatar Ultraspeedy

      The first line and the last line of your post im struggling a bit with, in one instance you seem confused as to what he is talking about and in the next you seem to have made up your mind claims are false.

    • Avatar TheManStan

      You forget the important bit in the middle… which gives context… the choice is yours in context or out of context…

    • Avatar Ultraspeedy

      You seem to be struggling with an explanation also

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